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Shadow chancellor promises to double house construction

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has promised to double the number of houses built across the UK if the Labour Party wins the next general election in 2015.

Ed Balls has confirmed that the construction of houses will be firmly at the centre of the party's economic policy leading up the election. With a target of 200","000 new homes being built every year by 2020"," the shadow chancellor is promising to almost double the rate of output seen recently within the construction industry.

Speaking at the National House-Building Council’s annual lunch last week"," Mr Balls highlighted the lack of emphasis on the construction of housing when Labour was last in power"," suggesting that the party's focus was on housing repair and renovation rather than on the construction of new homes.

According to the shadow chancellor"," this proposed boost in housing would include the construction of new towns across the UK"," as well as the creation of a national infrastructure commission"," in an attempt to rapidly increase housing construction.

Sir John Armitt"," former chairman for the Olympic Delivery Authority"," has already given his backing to the plan and has produced a policy document for the Labour Party on how infrastructure planning could be improved in the future.

Following the receipt of Sir John's policy proposal"," Mr Balls has now requested that Sir John take the plans to the next stage by producing a draft white paper based on his initial report"," which would set out the processes involved in setting up a national infrastructure commission.

Mr Balls new construction initiative has also received backing from The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). Director of the institution"," Nick Baveystock"," has highlighted the potential benefits of having a national infrastructure commission to oversee housing construction across the UK. He said: “Effective delivery of nationally significant infrastructure needs continuity of decision making"," stability for investors and integrated"," long term plans - these are almost inevitably at odds with short term political needs."

According to Mr Baveystock"," ICE believes Sir John's policy proposals could be the answer they've been looking for. He said: "To get the infrastructure we need"," on time and to budget"," we must get better at generating cross party consensus. ICE has long championed the concept of an independent infrastructure commission as a vehicle to achieving this and we therefore support Sir John’s proposals.”